by Ganiyat Temilade
Imposter syndrome is a sense of incompetence that you may experience, despite being an expert in your field. This feeling can occur in public, regardless of whether there are ten observers or 10,000. Whether it is for a corporate event, sales presentation, sales call or even a job interview, you might have negative thoughts like “I have no idea what I’ll be talking about” or “Am I good enough?” Imposter syndrome may undermine your performance in various ways if you are not careful. The good news is it’s easy to get over it.
Due to natural forces, public speaking leaves us highly vulnerable to the imposter syndrome. When we speak in front of others, it is a nerve-wracking moment. We may feel exposed and judged, both of which contribute to our anxiety about speaking in the first place. We feel unprotected and act as if the whole world is watching us speak (even though they aren’t). It’s the attention we fear—the scrutiny. The intensity of attentiveness is real, and we can all feel it; therefore, we are aware of it. You can sense the power of your listener’s attention even in one-on-one conversations. That emotion increases as the number of listeners increases, so how do we overcome imposter syndrome and speak confidently?
Nothing beats anxiety like preparation. You likely wouldn’t have been asked to speak if you weren’t qualified, so you first need to boost your confidence. How do you do that? By preparing your talk and knowing it from end to end. The preparation process gives you confidence because it forces you to nail what you’re going to say and how you will say it. Let’s face it: public speaking is the most effective marketing technique for your company, ideas and your personal brand. Leaders who communicate well are perceived as more potent and more intelligent.
Since public speaking is the ideal environment for anxiety, rigidity, self-doubt, and failure fright to breed, you must prepare, including rehearsing to conquer these fears. Don’t leave the door open for the sentiments of an imposter to enter.
Work to be a phenomenal speaker. Being called to talk publicly reflects the amount of skill and experience you bring to the table. The impulse of attention is persistent, so merely telling yourself that you are “good enough” won’t cut it.
Prioritize Your Audience
You must demonstrate you understand what is important to your audience at the outset of your presentation. Too often public speakers waste precious time talking about themselves or their company at the top. The reverse is what you want to do. Put your audience first, always, and that will ensure they keep listening. You must commit your opening statement to memory and speak it with confidence. As you say this introduction, take a first, deliberate breath to help you with pacing. This act will give whatever you’re saying weight and value to everyone. The fact that you will have a sense of body-groundedness also helps. It makes your presence more commanding. It helps that more than half of what you say is expressed via your body language. Be mindful of fidgeting or any other bodily queues that convey nervousness. Practicing ahead of time can help with this. Avoiding caffeine can also help. You can keep imposter syndrome at bay with this constant approach to speech presentation.
Don’t Pretend to be a doctor
Trying to gauge everyone’s mood in the room doesn’t produce positive results. There will always be someone who is looking at their phone or who steps out—don’t let these moments get you off track. Often, they have nothing to do with you. At any given moment, someone in your audience may be going through a personal crisis that is completely unrelated so don’t allow their actions to shake you.
Remember that everyone is susceptible to feeling like an imposter when standing up to talk. Don’t let those crucial situations serve as your testbed. As you prepare for a speech, focus on preparation, the value of your content to the audience and your body language. Do not allow imposter syndrome to control your public speaking experience; by doing so, you will transform your psychological response.